Overview

Comprehensive Description

Biology

Nocturnal shoaling species; favors large river channels with a soft bottom and fringing vegetation (Ref. 7248, 52193). Found mainly in sheltered bays, lagoons and swampy areas; occurs also in typical sandy or rocky rivers (Ref. 13337). Feeds on bottom-living invertebrates (Ref. 52193) and insect larvae at night (Ref. 5595). Known to migrate up tributary rivers of Lake Kariba during rainy season, though it is not yet clear whether this is a breeding migration (Ref. 13337). Breeds during summer rainy season; females carry up to 5,000 eggs (Ref. 7248).
  • Gosse, J.-P. 1984 Mormyridae. p. 63-122. In J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ORSTOM, Paris and MRAC, Tervuren. Vol. 1. (Ref. 3203)
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is known from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania, south to Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique.

Central Africa: Cyphomyrus discorhynchus is known from the Upper Kasai and the Upper Congo River basin.

Eastern Africa: It is distributed in Lake Rukwa (Seegers 1996), Lake Nyassa, Lake Tanganyika and affluent rivers including the Rusizi and Malagarasi rivers (De Vos et al. 2001). Also found in the Mtera dam, and Lake Malawi and its catchment and the Shire River.

Southern Africa: This species is widespread in the Zambezi River system, with the exception of the Kafue River. It is also found in the Buzi and Pungwe rivers to the south of the Zambezi.
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Africa: Cunene, Okavango, Buzi, Pungwe (Ref. 52193), Zambezi (Ref. 3203, 52193, 95585), Save (Ref. 13337) and Cubango Rivers (Ref. 3203). Absent from the Kafue River (Ref. 7248, 52193, 95585). Also in lakes Tanganyika and Malawi and the upper Congo (Ref. 3203, 52193) including lakes Bangweulu and Mweru (Ref. 13337, 95585).
  • Gosse, J.-P. 1984 Mormyridae. p. 63-122. In J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ORSTOM, Paris and MRAC, Tervuren. Vol. 1. (Ref. 3203)
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Central and southern Africa.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 30 - 36; Anal spines: 0; Analsoft rays: 23 - 27
  • Skelton, P.H. 2001 A complete guide to the freshwater fishes of southern Africa. Cape Town (South Africa): Struik Publishers, 395 p. (Ref. 52193)
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Size

Maximum size: 310 mm SL
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Max. size

31.0 cm SL (male/unsexed; (Ref. 4967)); max. published weight: 1,100 g (Ref. 52193)
  • Eccles, D.H. 1992 FAO species identification sheets for fishery purposes. Field guide to the freshwater fishes of Tanzania. Prepared and published with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (project URT/87/016). FAO, Rome. 145 p. (Ref. 4967)
  • Skelton, P.H. 2001 A complete guide to the freshwater fishes of southern Africa. Cape Town (South Africa): Struik Publishers, 395 p. (Ref. 52193)
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnosis: dorsal fin up to 1.5 times anal fin length; dorsal fin origin nearer caudal fin base than tip of snout; origin of dorsal fin in advance of anal fin (Ref. 52193). Chin with fleshy bulge; snout rounded in front of mouth; eye well above mouth (Ref. 4967). Male develops concavity to the margin of the anal fin, whereas that of female is straight; high back, with dorsal fin approximately 1/3 of total fish length, serves to separate it satisfactorily from other mormyrids in Zimbabwe (Ref. 13337).Description: body relatively deep, compressed; dorsal fin longer than anal; caudal fin forked, with rounded lobes; head rounded with blunt snout; mouth with mental lobe; teeth bicuspid, 5—6 in each jaw; females usually smaller than males, latter distinguished by notch or kink in anal fin (Ref. 52193).Coloration: greyish brown to dark brown, nearly black, lighter below; dark vertical bar sometimes evident between dorsal and anal fins (Ref. 52193).
  • Skelton, P.H. 2001 A complete guide to the freshwater fishes of southern Africa. Cape Town (South Africa): Struik Publishers, 395 p. (Ref. 52193)
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Ecology

Habitat

Zambezi River Demersal Habitat

This taxon is one of a number of demersal species in the Zambezi River system of southern Africa. Demersal river fish are found at the river bottom, feeding on benthos and zooplankton

Nutrient levels in the Zambezi River are relatively low, especially in the upper Zambezi; in that reach, above Victoria Falls, most of the catchment drains Kalahari sands, whose nutrient levels are inherently low due to their aeolian formation; moreover, agricultural fertilizer addition throughout the Zambezi watershed is low, due to the shortage of capital available to farmers of this region.

Nitrate levels (as nitrogen) in the upper Zambezi are typically in the range of .01 to .03 milligrams per liter. Correspondingly electrical conductivity of the upper Zambezi is on the order of 75 micro-S per centimeter, due to the paucity of ion content. From the Luangwa River downstream nitrate levels elevate to .10 to .18 milligrams per liter, and electrical conductivity rises to a range of two to four times the upper Zambezi levels. Not surprisingly, pH, calcium ion concentration, bicarbonate and electrical conductivity are all higher in portions of the catchment where limestone soils predominate compared to granite.

There are a total of 190 fish species present in the Zambezi River, including eel and shark taxa. The largest native demersal species present are the 117 centimeter (cm) long tiger fish (Hydrocynus vittatus), the 175 cm African mottled eel (Anguilla bengalensis labiata), the 120 cm Indonesian shortfin eel (Anguilla bicolor bicolor), the 200 cm Giant mottled eel (Anguilla marmorata), the 150 cm African longfin eel (Anguilla mossambica), the 183 cm Sampa (Heterobranchus longifilis), the 150 cm Cornish jack (Mormyrops anguilloides) and the 700 cm largetooth sawfish (Pristis microdon).

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Kunene River Demersal Habitat

This taxon is one of a number of demersal species in the Kunene River system. Demersal river fish are found at the river bottom, feeding on benthos and zooplankton

The Kunene River rises in the central highlands of Angola, and thence flows southward to form a major element of the border between Namibia and Angola before the final discharge is to the Atlantic Ocean in the vicinity of the Angola-Benguela Front. The geometry of the Kunene riparian zone is distinctly narrow, with rugged arid landscapes persisting on both sides of the river over long distances, and a virtual lack of any extensive floodplains.

There is a relatively high rate of endemism of aquatic biota in the Kunene. Proposed expansion of dams on the Kunene poses a threat to biodiversity in the river, especially regarding proposals at Epupa Falls. However, a greater threat to the Kunene is a plan by Angola to greatly expand withdrawal of water from the river to expand irrigated agriculture by 600,000 hectares; not only will this action significantly diminish downriver flow rates, but also add considerable nitrate, herbicide and pesticide substances to the river.

The catchment area of the Kunene Basin is approximately 106,560 square kilometres (41,143 square miles) in area, of which 14 100 km² (13%) lies within Namibian territory. Its mean annual discharge is 174 cubic meters per second (6145 cubic feet per second) at its mouth on the Atlantic. Water quality of the Kunene River is relatively high, since the human population density and agricultural intensity is relatively low, including a conspicuous absence of overgrazing. However, bacteria and other microbial pathogens pose a material threat to Kunene water quality, due to the fact that only a small fraction of the domestic wastewater in Angola is treated;

Regarding freshwater bivalves, the central reaches of the Kunene manifest particularly high endemism, similar to parts of the Okavango, Chobe, Upper Zambezi and Etosha Pan basins. The bivalve Etheria elliptica, which also occurs in the Upper Zambezi, is a freshwater mussel in the family Etheriidae, known from a limited extent of the central Kunene River in Angola. It is threatened by proposed dam construction on the Kunene.

There are two endemic denmersal fish in the Kunene: the 26 centimeter (cm) long demersal Kunene happy (Sargochromis coulteri) and the demersal fish Hippopotamyrus longilateralis.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This is a demersal species. It is a nocturnal shoaling species which favours large river channels with a soft bottom and fringing vegetation (Skelton 1993). Found mainly in sheltered bays, lagoons and swampy areas. It prefers deeper water to other small mormyrids but also occurs under fringing vegetation of sandy rivers. During the Zambezi flood in 2003, the species was caught in a stream overflowing from the rising main river into inland pans, and in a newly flooded field, suggesting lateral movements from the main river for breeding, stimulated by rising water levels (Tweddle et al.2004). It is a nocturnal shoaling species which, like other mormyrids, can generate a weak electric field around its body using specialized skeletal muscles, which it uses to detect small invertebrates on which it preys, and is often caught in large numbers by subsistence fishermen. It feeds on insect larvae at night (Konings 1990). Known to migrate up tributary rivers of Lake Kariba during rainy season, though it is not yet clear whether this is a breeding migration (Bell-Cross and Minshull 1988). Breeds during the rainy season; females carry up to 5,000 eggs.

Systems
  • Freshwater
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Environment

demersal; freshwater
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Trophic Strategy

Nocturnal shoaling species; favors large river channels with a soft bottom and fringing vegetation (Ref. 7248). Found mainly in sheltered bays, lagoons and swampy areas. Occurs also in typical sandy/rocky rivers (Ref. 13337). Frequency of occurence in Caprivi: frequently on rocky streams, occasionally in standing deep water (Ref. 037065). Feeds on insect larvae at night. Known to migrate up tributary rivers of Lake Kariba during rainy season,though it is not yet clear whether this is a breeding migration (Ref. 13337). Breeds during the rainy season; females carry up to 5,000 eggs.
  • Gosse, J.-P. 1984 Mormyridae. p. 63-122. In J. Daget, J.-P. Gosse and D.F.E. Thys van den Audenaerde (eds.) Check-list of the freshwater fishes of Africa (CLOFFA). ORSTOM, Paris and MRAC, Tervuren. Vol. 1. (Ref. 3203)
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Cyphomyrus cubangoensis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Barcode data: Hippopotamyrus discorhynchus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Hippopotamyrus discorhynchus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
Bills, R., Marshall, B., Moelants, T. & Tweddle, D.

Reviewer/s
Snoeks, J., Tweddle, D., Getahun, A., Lalèyè, P., Paugy, D., Zaiss, R., Fishar, M.R.A & Brooks, E.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has a wide distribution, with no known major widespread threats. It is therefore listed as Least Concern. It has also been assessed regionally as Least Concern for central, eastern and southern Africa.

History
  • 2009
    Least Concern
  • 2007
    Least Concern
    (IUCN 2009.2)
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Population

Population
Currently, there is a lack of detailed population numbers and the global trend is unknown.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
This species has commercial importance as an aquarium fish. As well as a risk of overfishing (particularly in lakes), illegal fishing, especially by use of poisons and small meshed nets across rivers threatens this species. In east Africa it is also threatened by pollution of the inshore riverine environment, silt loading, and deforestation and encroachment of wetlands for agriculture.
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Least Concern (LC)
  • IUCN 2006 2006 IUCN red list of threatened species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded July 2006.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There are no conservation measures or actions known.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Importance

fisheries: minor commercial; aquarium: commercial
  • Skelton, P.H. 1993 A complete guide to the freshwater fishes of southern Africa. Southern Book Publishers. 388 p. (Ref. 7248)
  • Konings, A. 1990 Ad Konings's book of cichlids and all the other fishes of Lake Malawi. T.F.H. Publications, Inc. 495 p. (Ref. 5595)
  • Balon, E.K. 1974 Fishes of Lake Kariba, Africa. T.F.H. Publications, Neptune City, New Jersey. (Ref. 3126)
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Wikipedia

Zambezi parrotfish

The Zambezi Parrotfish (Cyphomyrus discorhynchus) is an elephantfish in the family Mormyridae. It is currently the only member of its genus. It occurs in several river systems across central Africa. It grows to a length of 31 cm.

References

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